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One Year Later


With the announcement that the team is going into ritiro, or retreat, this week, it brought back some déjà vu. I distinctly remember this move of desperation being tried last year, too. And even though it didn’t work, here we are trying it again. Because why not?

Is it 2013 or 2007?

It was fall of 2012, just a year ago. Milan were in 15th place in the league, having lost five of their first eight Serie A matches, won 2, and drawn 1. We had drawn with Anderlecht in the Champions League, and had a miracle win away to Zenit. With such a poor start, management and Allegri decided the team needed a ritiro, or retreat, where the players could be free of all other distractions, and would live together and train together 24/7 and try to build team unity.

But did it? Milan lost their next match, a Champions League game away to Malaga. Then they went W-D-W-L in the league (with a 1-0 win to Genoa and a 5-1 win to Chievo) and lost to Malaga at home in the Champions League for good measure. Most importantly, they were playing very poorly. So it wasn’t until mid-November, after the great and mighty Berlusconi had descended upon Milanello via helicopter with all of his charisma and inspirational words for each player that the team finally united in a fantastic 2-2 draw against Napoli at home. That is the game everyone cites that turned our worst start in 70 or 80 years into a 3rd place finish.

Once again, Galliani looks to the past... that never goes poorly

Fast forward to this year. Not only did we have to qualify for the Champions League with a draw and a win vs. PSV, but we are in 12th place in the league on 8 points after just 7 games, having lost 3, drawn 2, and won 2. In the Champions League we won at home to Celtic and drew away to Ajax. But the scores just don’t relate how terribly we have been playing, a fact which was emphasized by a 3-0 loss to Ligue 2 side Caen on Sunday. So rather than try something new, the team is going back into ritro, most likely for 8 days. And good thing it worked so well last year, because we face Udinese on Saturday, then Barca midweek in the Champions League, and finish off the big slumber party away to Parma. Can we just fast forward to the part where Berlusconi flies in on his helicopter, please? Or maybe the part where after a year and a half saying that Allegri’s job was dependent on results, they actually put their money where their mouth is?

I don’t understand how on one day, they can cite injuries as the problem, and then the next day decide that a ritiro will change Milan’s fortunes. And, although Milan have had a ridonculous amount of injuries this season, as mentioned on the last podcast, Allegri actually has more quality in the squad this year than last year:


While many maintain that the summer mercato was a bust, since one year ago, between January and the summer, Milan have actually improved the squad quite a bit. The Coppola-Silvestre-Kaká-Matri purchases may not have been within “the plan,” but overall, combined with the January and other summer purchases, this squad should be performing better than last year’s squad.

But they’re not. Is it just the injuries? I don’t know how anyone who has actually watched the team play could say that. Is it the players? Well obviously, they have to take their portion of the responsibility. But even with so many player changes over the last couple of years, the team is playing very similarly to last year. That tells me that it is more likely that the greater responsibility lies with the one thing that has stayed the same: the manager. So it is unlikely that a simple ritiro is going to dramatically change anything. Sure, the players returning from injury should help. But when you keep doing the same things you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting the same results you’ve always gotten.

This season, we had the €20m man from the start

As a fan, if it was just the team playing poorly, I could handle that. I wouldn’t like it, but I could deal with it. But it is the complete lack of tactics, motivation and direction on the pitch from Allegri, and the lack of a clear direction off of the pitch by management that make this season so hard to swallow. And although the players come and go, the story and the results stay the same.

Just as there is no rhyme or reason to Allegri’s lineups or formation choices, and a player’s playing time does not seem to have anything to do with his form or fitness, management lack the ability to see what is happening to the club not only short term but also in the long term, and they especially lack the spine necessary to do what it takes to right the ship. Until something changes from one of these sources, it is increasingly less likely that Milan’s fortunes will improve like last year.

From champagne football to juicebox football to black hole football

So here we are, one year later. An underperforming squad once again. We’ve spent €47.5m (while only bringing in €25m from player sales) to improve the squad, and we are getting the same results. So why not just make the players live at Milanello for 8 days? Because then management can pretend like they are trying to solve the problem without doing the one thing they should have done all along. Because why not.


This post inspired by the music of Rage Against the Machine


Our next match is
Milan vs. Udinese
Saturday, October 19 • 20:45 CEST (2:45 EDT)